Normally, this site focuses on ways that high-speed Internet connections make the online experience more pleasant. Recently, though, one bit of technology that definitely got our interest was something that did just the opposite: a device that would have allowed us to artificially slow down our Internet.
If there’s a down side to having a fast Internet connection, which is that it becomes all too easy to lose track of time and put off the things we should be doing instead of surfing around the web or playing online games. Throttling your own connection doesn’t make much sense, but throttling the connection of others in your household just might.
For all intents and purposes, today’s teens have never known a world without the Internet, and many of them have never used an external modem to get online. And when you get used to that speed, living without it can become torturous. If you have no Internet, you’ll just find something else to do. But when your Internet slows to a crawl, it’s absolutely maddening.
Slower Traffic Keep Right
For a while, it looked as if parents would be able to use this frustration to their advantage. VexBox is a secondary router that allows users to reduce the connection speed available to selected devices in your home without affecting others. Its true genius is in understanding that a slow connection is more frustrating than no connection. The VexBox Kickstarter page indicated a price of $39, but while the VexBox got a ton of press, it didn’t get the financial backing it needed, and its designer has put the device on hiatus.
Kids and young adults may be breathing easier, but this is a technology we’d like to see succeed, so we were disappointed by the news. We’re hoping the designer finds a way to make VexBox profitable, but if not, that a product with the same function finds its way to market. The device’s implied threat is practical, but also pretty funny when you think about it: one of the worst punishments for modern teens is a slow Internet connection.
It’s still a viable idea, and this technology has potential as punishment, motivation, and teaching tool. Are online games cutting into study time? Set it to 56k until those grades come up. Are the kids taking their current connection speed for granted? Drop it down to 28.8k for an hour or so to remind them what you had to live with and how good they have it. On the other hand, maybe that 4.0 report card deserves a gigabit reward.
Isn’t There an Easier Way?
Sure, you could just take away their Internet connection entirely, but your kids do probably need it for school work and other important activities they’re a part of. Slowing their connection will make it harder to enjoy data-heavy content, like streaming video and gaming, while still allowing practical access for research, email, and so on.
The VexBox’s designer admitted that some tech-savvy parents wouldn’t need the device. If you know how to set up SSID on your router, you can have the same effect, but the VexBox wasn’t designed for those parents. It was designed as a simple solution for those of us who have no idea what that last sentence means.
As a rule of thumb, kids tend to understand new technology better than their parents, so the focus is on making the device simple, while offering parents total control. After all, that tech-savvy children will probably look for ways to circumvent the device—you wouldn’t want to have to ask your kids for help with setting it up.
If You Don’t Need One, Maybe You Need One
Is the ability to artificially slow your Internet connection something that you’d be interested in? If it is, bear in mind that it might not happen without your help, and it could end up as some sort of digital fishing story—the tech that got away.
Photo Credit: VexBox Facebook